SUPERCOMPUTER UPGRADE ADDS MORE SPEED, PRECISION TO
NOAA'S WEATHER SERVICE FORECASTS

January 16, 2001 — Albuquerque, N.M. — The IBM supercomputer, which is providing higher-resolution weather models for meteorologists at NOAA's National Weather Service, received an upgrade last month and now is operating 40 times faster than the Cray C-90 computer the agency last used in September 1999. (NOAA photo of National Weather Service booths at AMS conference in Albuquerque, N.M.)

At the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Albuquerque, N.M., National Weather Service officials said the supercomputer upgrade continues the momentum toward faster, more accurate weather models that meteorologists will use to hone their forecasts.

Click here to see a short, unnarrated film of the supercomputer.

"Precision in forecasting—both short-term and long-term—is the goal we are trying to reach," said Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction. "Having advanced technology like the supercomputer gives meteorologists the information they need, at a faster rate, to make forecasts that are more accurate and timely."

With the upgrade, the IBM System Parallel supercomputer now generates weather data at speeds of over 3 trillion calculations per second, compared to 690 billion calculations per second before the upgrade. Numerical weather models, which generate forecasts for up to 16 days into the future, start by using atmospheric observations, including temperature, wind speed, precipitation and other oceanographic and satellite information. These models provide crucial guidance to forecasters that allows them to predict weather events such as, hurricanes, floods, severe weather and winter storms days in advance. The observations result in the collection of billions of "bytes" of data.

Retired Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, director of NOAA's National Weather Service, said the recent upgrade is another example of the agency's effort to keep pace with technology and its commitment to "providing the best weather forecasts possible."

The supercomputer is housed at the Commerce Department's Census Bowie Computer Center in Bowie, Md.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Video footage of the IBM SP supercomputer is available in Beta-SP or VHS format from Video Transfer of Rockville, Md., (301) 881-0270.

Relevant Web Sites
The following National Weather Service Web sites are available to provide up-to-the-minute winter weather information.

Current winter storm watches, warnings and temperatures across the United States

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center — Winter Outlook 2000-2001

National forecasts that extend from three to 14 days in advance

Winter weather safety and preparedness tips to handle snow, ice, wind and bitter cold temperatures

Map showing the latest conditions over the United States

NOAA's Weather Page — includes latest satellite images and weather maps

NOAA's National Weather Service Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services

NOAA's
National Weather Service's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center

UPS AND DOWNS MARK YEAR IN WEATHER FOR 2000, NOAA SAYS
FORECASTERS UPDATE WINTER 2000-01 OUTLOOK


NOAA Weather Radio

Media Contacts:
Ron Trumbla, NOAA's National Weather Service Southern Region, cell phone (817) 999-8526 or John Leslie, NOAA's National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622
(NOAA photo courtesy of Bob Chartuk, NOAA's National Weather Service Eastern Region.)


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